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Five 2.0 L Engines that Produce More Than 2 HP per Cubic Inch

In the ’60s, an engine with 1 hp per CID was hot stuff. Today we have 2.0L engines that more than double that plus produce more hp than a V8 did back then.

The one horsepower per cubic inch barrier was first crossed in the 1956 by a Generation I Chrysler Hemi, but remained a target for manufacturers of muscle cars through the ’60s and into the early ’70s. (Chevrolet broke through the barrier with the small block in 1957 with the fuel-injected Corvette).

Now we have a number of small 2.0 L four cylinder engines that not only produce more than one horsepower per cubic inch but can double and comes incredibly close to tripling that. And overall horsepower matches what many ’60s muscle cars produces, when you adjust for SAE Gross versus SAE Net horsepower ratings.

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Lancer Evo X

The Lancer Evolution X sedan features the 4B11T 2.0 L (129 CID) turbocharged inline  four cylinder  engine with aluminum cylinder heads and an aluminum block with cast iron liners (previous Evo motors used cast iron blocks). Interestingly, the engine is considered “square” (in fact it’s bore and stroke are the same dimension). The engine features Mitsubishi’s variable valve timing system  MIVEC that continuously varies valve timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts.

The engine produces a remarkable 291 hp, which calculates to 2.376 horsepower to cubic inch. (FYI, the limited Edition Lancer Evo Final Edition produces 303 hp)

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Audi S3 & VW Golf R

The Audi S3 and Volkswagen Golf R are powered by a upgraded version of the VW/Audi EA113 2.0-litre FSI (direct gasoline injection) turbocharged engine.  The engine features a  stiffer block, and more robust connecting rods, bearings and rings. Forged pistons are employed along with a longer duration camshaft. The upgraded injectors provide a 13% increase in fuel flow and a larger K04 turbo provides a 3 PSI bump over the standard GTI, with intake air passing through a 30% larger intercooler.

The engine comes in at 292 hp, which is 2.392 horsepower per cubic inch. BTW 292 hp is roughly equivalent to 350 hp under the older SAE Gross ratings used in the 1960s.

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Volvo S60

Our first two cars utilized turbochargers to increase their volumetric efficiency and along with its their power output. Volvo wanted to raise the stakes even higher with its VEP4 engine so while their basic package of an aluminum 2.0 L engine with DOHC, variable valve timing, and direction they add both a turbocharger and a supercharger (and not just any supercharger, but a Roots type, just like Top Fuel dragsters).

The result is that the Swedish engineers have managed to push their minuscule 2.0 L four banger to 302 horsepower. That calculates out to a horsepower to cubic inch ratio of 2.474, or twice the HP per Cubic Inch of the 2016 Corvette LT1 (1.22 HP/CID).

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Volvo XC90

Those clever Swedish engineers didn’t stop with the S60. For the XC90 SUV they pushed the engine further, squeezing an astounding 316 hp out of the little motor, raising output to 2.59 HP per CID

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Mercedes-Benz  CLA 45 AMG

The M133 engine for the CLA 45 AMG is based on the Mercedes-Benz M270 engine, but development was conducted fully inside AMG. The 2.0 L four cylinder engine is the most powerful for its displacement of any passenger car offered to the public. The engine block is an aluminum closed-deck design and both liners and pistons receive an anti-friction coating prior to assembly. Both connecting rods and the crankshaft are made of forged steel. The DOHC cylinder head features variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. A twin-scroll turbocharger is utilized with a fluid to air intercooler that operates on its own circuit.

The AMG M133 engine produces 355 hp from its 2.0 L displacement, which is nearly three horsepower from ever cubic inch (2.908), an amazing feat for an engine that also complies with all emissions requirements.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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